As New Zealand looks back at an eventful year, one beacon of hope for 2022 and beyond is this country’s young people, as these Kiwis show.
Student Volunteer Army
Even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Student Volunteer Army has stepped up time and time again whenever they’re needed.
Soon after the virus made its way to New Zealand, the SVA mobilised to shop for those who couldn’t make a supermarket trip themselves.
And as the impacts of Covid-19 continued into 2021, the SVA didn’t stop helping. In December, they hit a milestone: 3000 grocery deliveries over nearly two years.
“Two years ago, we did not expect to become a grocery delivery organisation, but that’s what SVA does,” co-founder and CEO Sam Johnson said.
“When normal services are overwhelmed by extraordinary circumstances, SVA helps mobilise the community to make sure that nobody gets left behind.”
They’re pausing their delivery service for the meantime as the country makes its way into the traffic light system. But, Johnson said SVA isn’t going anywhere and would be ready to respond to whatever comes next.
Kiwi students around the country, and particularly in Auckland, have faced significant disruptions to their education for the second year in a row.
Despite the challenges, Auckland’s prefects were determined to let their peers know they were there for them.
Howick College head boy Krish Patel and head girl Hannah Milo virtually brought together nearly 100 student leaders from about 45 secondary schools across Auckland to feature in a five-minute Instagram video encouraging students to care for their mental wellbeing.
Thousands of students also had to deal with potentially being exposed to Covid-19. Lynfield College Head Boy Sanat Singh and Auckland University’s Annie Hu were among them, with both making the most of movies and online games to keep connected with friends.
Got Ya Dot Covid-19 vaccination drive
While Covid-19 vaccination rates for kaumātua over 65 are above 90 per cent in all areas of the country, vaccination coverage for Māori youth is going up, but at a slower pace than the rest of the population.
Got Ya Dot wanted to change that. The rangatahi-led jab drive kicked off one Saturday in dedicated vaccination hubs in Auckland and Wellington.
Campaigner and social media personality Pere Wihongi was among those spearheading the kaupapa.
Wihongi said vaccinators needed to reach young people where they were — on social media.
So, with TikTok takeovers, loud music, Got Ya Dot ‘influencers’ and a continuous live stream, event organisers made sure to make the most of non-traditional methods to encourage vaccinations.
Young talents shine bright at Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020 saw New Zealand athletes take home more Olympic medals than ever before — seven gold, six silver, and seven bronze.
Among the country’s young talents under 25 was Hayden Wilde, who took home New Zealand’s first medal of the games — a bronze for triathlon. The 24-year-old burst into tears after his win, honouring his late dad, family, and coaches.
Following behind her was Campbell Stewart, who snatched New Zealand’s second cycling silver with a brilliant final omnium race.
To top it off, Lydia Ko won bronze and became the first golfer to win multiple individual Olympic medals. The 24-year-old dedicated her medal to her late grandmother.